Gladeye CEO Tarver Graham discusses what keeps him up at night as a part of a series in conjunction with Tech Futures Lab.
What worries you the most about technology?
That it’s going to outpace humanity in generalised intelligence before we know how to work with it.
What excites you the most?
The potential for humanity to take control over our own evolution. Whether that’s genetics or cybernetics or some other augmentation like a brain-computer interface with some decent bandwidth. We might become more specialised or we might become more connected in a Borg-type way. Also the potential of an AI singularity. I think I’ll see that in my lifetime. I don’t know what it’ll look like by I expect to see it.
What’s your scariest prediction for the future?
That genetic engineering or some other augmentation will fork humanity into different breeds and widen the gap between haves and have-nots. I think we’re on that path, and it’s the opposite of the vision for humanity that most of us imagine.
If you could go back in time, what’s one technology advancement you would rave about to your great grandparents?
Google Earth. It’s easy to explain and totally wondrous.
What do you think New Zealand will look like as a country in 2038?
We’ll be an innovation hub that attracts talent from around the world and combines it with Kiwi can-do to make great digital products that advance the cause of humanity. That or we’re the last outpost against machine overlords or mutated super-humans.
What’s your social media usage like?
I’m on Twitter @tarvergraham
Do you try limit how much personal information is available about you online?
It’s hard to operate like that. We don’t need to limit what we share but we do need to own and control it and that’s not the case right now. Something like a digital ID, owned by me, that aggregates all my data online, and lets me allow temporary, revocable permission to access that data for uses that I approve. This work is happening now.
What will be dead in the next five years?
Car parks, hopefully. Self-driving cars will dramatically change urban landscapes not to mention work, play and everything in between. Also keyboards, mice and most types of screens. Those are more like 5 to 10 years. In five years we’ll see a lot of job changes, especially in media. 90 percent of media jobs will go, as will jobs in banking and finance. Lawyers and accountants are in trouble. Drivers, obviously. Call centre and retail’s in trouble. Most service industries will change. We need to be ready for major social change within five years.
What does your ideal robot look like?
I like robots that are modelled on people or animals in terms of basic locomotion but don’t actually pretend to be animals or people. They’re anthropomorphised so we can read emotions and they’re cute, but they’re obviously engineered objects so you avoid the uncanny valley problem. I love Boston Dynamics’ new puppy-type robot, Spot. I think synchronised drones have a lot to offer too.
Will the robots become sentient and kill us all?
They’ll become very intelligent very quickly. It depends how you define sentient, but in every practical way machines will soon behave as if they’re sentient and we won’t be able to argue otherwise. I don’t think they’ll kill all of us, but you can imagine that some robots will be programmed to kill some people.
How likely is it that we’re living in a simulation?
Yeah, we’re in a Dyson sphere. But it’s like the infinitely branching universes of quantum physics. The theory’s not observable or testable so it’s impossible to know. Someone did think they’d refuted the simulation idea recently, by proving that simulation of certain types of quantum fluctuations would require computational power greater than the entire universe. But I didn’t study for that test so I can’t elaborate on this.
How far should we take human enhancement?
In the absence of a world government and a reliable way to police everyone, it’s not going to be our choice. We’re at the beginning of an arm’s race for what the future of humanity looks like. It’s going to happen and it’ll be taken as far as it goes, which is probably quite monstrous.
What’s the best use of a chatbot you’ve seen?
DDB’s Re:scam bot is great. It’s not really a chatbot though. I’m not sure I’ve seen a great chatbot yet.
How would you feel about interacting with a chatbot fuelled by a deceased loved one’s texts and social media posts?
Too deep in uncanny valley for me.
What about being a part of a social credit system, Black Mirror style?
I haven’t seen that episode but you mean China style? China makes a compelling argument for efficiency and collectivism. But I’m an old-school liberal humanist. I’d hate to be controlled like that.
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To read what's keeping other industry folk awake at night, click here.